Alan Pardew survived “Judgement Saturday”, but there remains much for the Newcastle manager to do to add solidity to his position.
For starters, he still needs a Premier League win – victories by Crystal Palace and West Bromwich yesterday sent Newcastle bottom of the table – but trips to Stoke (next Monday) and Swansea (the following Saturday) present yet more problems.
There was a context that was lost amid the sackpardew.com paper aeroplanes grounded on the side of the St James’ Park turf after the 2-2 draw with Hull City. The brave fightback in a performance that suggested Pardew still has his players’ backing was not good enough to beat Hull. Newcastle won 4-1 at the KC Stadium last season, that fateful day when Pardew head-butted David Meyler and sent the club into a downward spiral.
Yes, there was a show of desire – led by Cheick Tioté – and yes, there was the emergence of a goalscorer – Papiss Cissé. His entrance and two late goals (in the 73rd and 87th minutes) ensured calm. That it was possibly a justified point (Newcastle started well, looked powderpuff up front, conceded two excellent goals as Hull took control and then rallied) ensured Pardew walked pitchside at quarter to seven on Saturday night with a renewed spring in his step.
Who could replace Alan Pardew as Newcastle manager?
Who could replace Alan Pardew as Newcastle manager?
1/7 Steve Bruce
Having got Hull City promoted back to the Premier League and then taking them to the FA Cup final last May, Bruce is steadily adding to his reputation as a manager. His previous role at Sunderland was always fraught due to his Geordie roots - but that certainly wouldn't be a problem at St James' Park. The former Manchester United defender didn't disgrace himself during spells in charge of Wigan and Birmingham either.
2/7 Neil Lennon
The former Leicester player was highly successful during his time at Celtic - his only managerial position to date. He won three league titles and caused a few upsets in the Champions League. Has been linked with Premier League roles for some time and is currently a free agent having stepped down at the end of the last season after four years in charge.
3/7 Steve McClaren
McClaren's career is difficult to judge. Performed a few miracles at Middlebrough then came the England job. Won the Eredivisie title with FC Twente, then had strange spells with Wolfsburg and Nottingham Forest. It seems the 53-year-old could be back on the way up judging by Derby's solid start to the season and owing to his North East roots, could be a good option for Newcastle.
4/7 Michael Laudrup
A more glamorous appointment that could appease the fans would be that of Laudrup. During his time at Swansea he did brilliantly, bringing in rough gems that he polished into a League Cup winning side. The style of play he instilled was impossible not to admire. The former Barcelona midfielder is currently in charge of Qatari side Lekhwiya.
5/7 Joe Kinnear
Surely Mike Ashley wouldn't - would he? Kinnear was unpopular during his previous spell in charge of Newcastle before it came to an end due to health issues. He was then made Director of Football but a few embarrassing episodes, from getting players' names wrong to failing to visibly do anything soured his standing amongst the fans further.
6/7 Paolo Di Canio
The controversial Italian is just the type of character that would ensure a continuation of the Newcastle United soap opera. And that's why he shouldn't be discounted. Actually did quite well in charge of Swindon and managed to keep Sunderland afloat after being parachuted in. His controversial knee-sliding celebrations when the Black Cats won at St James' Park won't have done him any favours though, and neither will the reports of complete discontent by the end of his reign at the Stadium of Light.
7/7 Roberto Di Matteo
Seemingly linked with every job going, remarkably Di Matteo is still yet to dip his toe back into the choppy management waters since taking Chelsea to Champions League glory in 2012. His feat with the Blues whilst caretaker manager has ensured he is a popular choice whenever vacancies come up, whilst his spells at MK Dons and West Brom weren't too shabby either.
“I didn’t think I’d be playing,” said Cissé, who has just returned from injury. “I started training on Tuesday. Then, on Friday, the gaffer said, ‘I think I’ll put you on the bench. You look right and good.’ Then I scored two goals.”
But though the ticking time bomb next to Pardew was defused for now, there remains great unrest around a club which becomes ever stranger, given that any conversations the owner, Mike Ashley, has away from the glare of a camera or the pitfalls of a dictaphone have apparently become club statements. Ashley is said to have told a punter on Saturday that Pardew would be safe. Then again he told Alan Shearer he would be in touch after hearing his plans to get the club back in the Premier League. That was in 2009. Shearer is still waiting.
On Wednesday Pardew has the opportunity to reach the fourth round of the Capital One Cup at Palace. Do not sniff at that. During Ashley’s seven-and-a-half-year ownership, it is as far as Newcastle have gone in a domestic competition.
It also raises more potential controversy. The club’s stated philosophy now is that they do not see either the League Cup or FA Cup as important.
Palace may play a second string under Neil Warnock and Pardew is likely to rest half of his first team. But losing to a bunch of reserves will still not be well received in the black-and-white areas of the North-east that so crave a cup run to mirror what Sunderland did last season – even if there is no desire for one in the boardroom.
Whatever Pardew is or isn’t, he fronted it out on Saturday. He stood in the technical area, as he had promised his players, and even at 2-0 down he did not hide. At some point in the future that may mean something.
Newcastle were losing to two cracking second-half goals from Nikica Jelavic and Mohamed Diamé when Cissé came on to jeers. That was in the 69th minute. By the 87th Cissé had struck twice. He also raised his shirt to reveal a T-shirt paying tribute to team-mate Jonas Gutierrez, who has revealed he is fighting cancer.
That the team now has a centre-forward suggests there may be a more sustainable change in form and foundation, but do not rush there. Newcastle are not out of the woods by any stretch of the imagination.Reuse content